There are several factors that can influence what type of research method a sociologist chooses to use, these factors include:
- Time and money available – large surveys or observations can be time consuming and expensive to complete and take a long time to analyse
- Aims of the researcher – researchers could sometimes try and twist the data so it confirms hypothesis, so they might choose a method they think will give them the results they want
- What is known about the field you are investigating – if someone has already carried out a survey in one field a sociologist might choose to interview participants instead, for example.
- Whether the researcher is interested in the subject or not – if the researcher is not interested in the subject area they might choose a quicker and less time consuming method than if they were very interested by it
- Whether the research is ethical or not – it could be that in one scenario using a certain method could be unethical. For example, interviewing a recently bereaved family could be unethical, so they would choose a different method.
- Whether the method is suitable – for example using a written questionnaire could be difficult for investigating criminals, many of whom could be illiterate.
- Theoretical beliefs of the researcher – different researchers will have different views on what research type to use. For example positivists are more likely to choose something that will yield quantitative results such as a closed survey.